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Thekkady Travel Guide

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady Wildlife, Thekkady Elephant Wildlife, Thekkady Tourism


Surface
There are direct buses that link Thekkady with Trivandrum, Cochin, Kottayam, Munnar and Madurai.

Train
The nearest railway station is in Kottayam, about 114 kilometers (71.25 miles) from Thekkady. Besides, the Changanassery railway station is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away, while Ernakulam and Madurai railway stations are 190 and 135 kilometers (119 and 84 miles) from Thekkady respectively. You need to take a private taxi to Periyar from each of these train stations.

Air
The nearest railway station is in Kottayam, about 114 kilometers (71.25 miles) from Thekkady. Besides, the Changanassery railway station is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) away, while Ernakulam and Madurai railway stations are 190 and 135 kilometers (119 and 84 miles) from Thekkady respectively. You need to take a private taxi to Periyar from each of these train stations.

Nature Walk
Nature Walk is an interpretative program that allows you to explore the dense Periyar wilderness, enjoy the nature, sight wildlife, hear the rustle of the wind and smell the wild blossoms. All guests are required to report at the Boat Landing Point in Thekkady, at least half an hour before the start of the tour. A three-hour long trek, you can select from 0700 to 1000 hour, 1100 to 1400 hour, and 1400 to 1700 hour slots.

Bullock Cart Discovery
The only original way of experiencing country life in India is atop a bullock cart. To take tourists back to the golden days of yore, the state has designed an interesting program in which a group of people are taken around the farmlands of a village hidden in the valley behind the mountains of Periyar Tiger Reserve in a bullock cart. Home to a wealth of birds, the village is a paradise for avid bird-watchers, not to mention a wonderful beginning for a novice.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar’s location close to the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu makes it an ideal base for a journey across the Western Ghats between Madurai and the coast. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread out over approx. 777 square kilometers in the dense cardamom hills region of the Western Ghats. It is a convenient base for an excursion to the cardamom hills, combined with the well-known pilgrimage centre ‘Sabarimala’, a couple of tea factories, spice plantations, and some beautiful waterfalls along the way. About 350 square kilometers of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary forming the core region was declared a National Park in 1982.

Jungle Inn
If you are two of you, and wish to share the quietness of the jungle night, here is an interesting activity. ‘Jungle Inn’, as the name goes, involves a brief trek in the afternoon into the Periyar Sanctuary to a secluded cottage in a little glade surrounded by tall trees. The facilities are very basic inside the guesthouse, as it is primarily meant for giving you an authentic jungle experience in the middle of the Periyar forest, and opens up innumerable opportunities of wildlife sighting.

Spice Plantation Tour
The spice plantations of Thekkady are a huge draw for travelers from all over the world. A walk through them opens up a vista of pristine greenery shrouded by low hanging clouds, gurgling brooks and a pale shadow of the Western Ghats in the backdrop. Plantation eco-tours are organized by the District Tourism Information Office at Thekkady in junction Kumily.

Jungle Patrol
If motorboat cruise on Periyar Lake in search of wildlife was not adventurous enough, a jungle patrol in the dead of the night by shining torch lights will give you the adrenaline-rush. Jungle patrol is part of the regular night patrolling in the fringe of eco-development zones of Periyar Tiger Reserve. You are required to assemble at Bamboo Grove Eco Lodge & Centre adjacent to the famed tiger reserve, half an hour before the start of the tour.

Tribal Heritage Program
Sign up for the Tribal Heritage Program in Periyar and get a glimpse into the lives of the Mannan tribes that are among the oldest indigenous group to inhabit Periyar Tiger Reserve. These tribes continued living in the remotest areas of the tiger reserve till the late 40’s, eking out a living by fishing in the lake and engaging in some cultivation. In this two-hour journey, you will be taken on a nature trail to the grey thatched tribal hamlets, shown the traditional fishing and hunting gear, musical instruments, household articles, indigenous medicinal plants, and finally to the Tribal Heritage Museum.

Mangala Devi Temple
The Mangala Devi Temple is an architectural find in the middle of deep woods atop a 1337-meter-high (4457 feet) peak. About 15 kilometers (9.37 miles) from Thekkady, this ancient stone temple dedicated to local deity Mangala, is designed in typical Pandian style. The temple serves as a perfect vantage point to view the Western Ghats from a different perspective, and enjoy panoramic views of the vast plains of Tamil Nadu stretching into distance.

Bamboo Rafting on Periyar Lake
Bamboo rafting conjures up images of a Robinson Crusoe-like wild island dissected by streams and waterfalls, where the only mode of transport is makeshift bamboo rafts. An authentic way of traversing the jungles, we have grown up to associate this form of transportation with forest adventure courtesy some classic books and movies that have captured the imagination of generations. Climb onto a bamboo raft and set out to explore the Periyar wildness the way ancient tribes did.

Border Hiking
Border hiking is an adventure-packed full day activity that is largely conservation oriented, and involves a hard trek starting from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening. The excursion begins from Bamboo Grove Eco Lodge & Centre adjacent to the famed tiger reserve, and you are required to arrive at least half an hour before the start time. A maximum of 10 tourists can take this program in two separate groups, with each group of trekkers accompanied by two guides and an armed forest guard.

Thekkady conjures up images of aromatic spice plantations, a never-ending spine of hills and elephants moving in herds near the water’s edge. This wildlife centre and scenic hill station in central Kerala gets visitors from the world over. Sail in a motorboat on Periyar Lake past ancient tree limbs protruding out of the water and look out for sambhars grazing with gay abandon, or a rare bird perched on the bare tree trunk, and if you are lucky, the great Indian tiger in his natural habitat. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers ample scope for treks and mountain walks.


History
Situated close to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu, Periyar and Thekkady are a part of the Idukki district of Kerala. Blessed with dense green forests, semi-evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savanna grasslands, Thekkady’s continuous residents have been the animals: elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion-tailed Macaques, and Nilgiri Langurs.

Though some evidence of a Stone Age civilization has been found, there is no authoritative history of the region. There are some indigenous tribes, such as Mannan, Malayarayan, Muthuvan, and Oorali that still reside in the remotest regions of the park.

The history of the Periyar Tiger Reserve is more definitive. The Periyar Lake, around which the reserve is sited was formed by the construction of Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895. Four years later, the are was declared the Periyar Lake Reserve. The Nellikkampatty Game Sanctuary was founded in 1934. A few years after independence, these two parks were consolidated and the area was recognized as the Periyar Tiger Reserve. It was duly notified as a National park in 1982.

Getting Around
The attractions in Thekkady are centered around the Periyar Tiger Reserve which can be explored either by trekking, taking a motorboat cruise or elephant ride. Farther attractions that are about 16 to 20 kilometers from Thekkady can be reached by hiring a private taxi which can be arranged by your hotel of stay. During your stay in Thekkady, you can sign up for a range of activities such as border hiking, bamboo rafting, nature walk, tribal heritage trail and night safari among other counts. All these excursions begin from a common start point either Bamboo Grove or Boat Landing Point, which are in proximity to your resort.

Tourist Traps in the City
The place is peaceful and free of irritants.

Local Custom
Whatever season you choose to visit, it is wise to carry appropriate clothing, mindful of the fact that short clothes not only risk overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun but also could offend the locals who are a tad conservative. It is ideal to bring light cotton clothing of the long-sleeved and long-legged variety. Don’t forget a high SPF sunscreen. You need to take off your shoes before entering a temple, and avoid carrying leather objects inside a religious place.

Shopping
Thekkady is the place to indulge in spice shopping in India, though there aren’t many big shopping areas. In your quest for exotic condiments, head to Kumily – a pretty town in the cardamom hills, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Periyar. It is a major tourist destination and a spice trading centre close to Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Lake. The market place here is speckled with small, colorful stalls selling local knick-knacks, handicraft and one-off souvenirs. And you will be tempted to buy just about everything on display!

Take a break from spice shopping, and munch on the famous South Indian banana chips freshly fried in aromatic coconut oil. Before concluding your shopping excursion, don’t forget to pick up some interesting elephant and tiger motif T-shirts for kids as a souvenir of your holiday in Kerala. Also visit Eco Shop and Eco Spices near the entrance gate of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. They sell an assortment of organic garden fresh spices such as tea, coffee, vanilla, saffron, cardamom, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, nut maze, star anise, honey, cinnamon, Ayurvedic oils, and homemade chocolates. At Eco Shop, you will find an impressive collection of message T-shirts, postcards, books on wildlife, and WWF souvenirs among others.

Thekkady offers a rare, but authentic shopping experience.

 

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